SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – Hundreds of people lined Route 35 Wednesday evening to watch 21 area fire departments and 12 marching bands parade along the roadway – a highlight of the South Salem Fire Department's annual carnival. The department is marking its 74th year of service.
Kevnin Andros, parade chairman, said this year’s parade included 475 firefighters, 400 band members and 53 fire trucks.
“It seems like every department has its own marching band this year,” Andros said. “[The South Salem Fire Department] has the Dixie Dandies. We’ve been using them for years and they’re really good.”
People arrived early for the parade to jockey for a good viewing area along the shoulders of Route 35. Jan Bullard of South Salem, along with her 8-year-old daughter, Leigh, found a prime spot.
“I used to go to this as a little girl, so it’s a big deal,” Bullard said. “We pretty much come every year.”
Leigh Bullard said she was looking forward to the parade because she knew someone who was marching in it.
“I’m real excited about it because my bus driver is in the parade,” she said. “He’s a drummer in the Westchester Brassmen.”
Tom Herzog, president of the South Salem Fire Department, has been co-chair of the carnival for the past 15 years. This year marks the carnival’s 44th anniversary.
“I’m encouraged because we had a pretty good turnout last night and tonight looks really good as well,” he said.
Herzog said that while the carnival is the fire department’s primary fundraiser for the year, it has a bigger meaning beyond raising cash.
“To my mind, it’s a service to the community, especially for the kids,” he said. “It’s something for them to do every summer. I don’t care if we make a penny. If we do make some money, that’s just gravy.”
The food included the traditional carnival fair such as sausage-and-pepper sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs, french fries, funnel cakes and cotton candy.
Parker Landsman, 11, of Waccabuc, and her friend, Pippa Nuttal, 11, of Katonah, were enjoying a meal of chicken nuggets, fries, and watermelon before hitting the midway for an evening of rides and games.
“We try to go every year for one or two nights,” Nuttal said. “We like the rides best.”
“I can’t wait to go on the Ali Baba,” Landsman said, referring to one of the tallest rides on the midway.
The carnival runs through Saturday night on the grounds of the South Salem firehouse on Route 35.